A "TEXTBOOK landing" saw a pilot escape miraculously unscathed when his plane was forced to crash land on one wheel at Wagga airport on Friday afternoon.
Rusty Crane, a South Australian livestock carrier, was coming in to land at Wagga when another pilot waiting on the tarmac spotted landing gear in the plane had not been locked down properly.
Mr Crane contacted ground crews and emergency services stormed on the area about 11.15am.
He spent an hour in the air circling the airport to burn fuel, before landing on a fire retardant foam emergency services had laid as a makeshift landing strip.
"I'd hate to think (how bad it could have been)," an uninjured Mr Crane said.
"If I'd come down thinking everything was right, it could have been a very different scenario."
Mr Crane, who has flown for just five years, had left Naracoorte that morning and was flying to Wagga on business.
The humble hero praised the ground and emergency workers, but prominent local pilot and former Wagga City Aero Club president John Smith described Mr Crane's performance as "perfect".
"The pilot did a fantastic job," Mr Smith said.
"He couldn't have done anything better. He did a textbook perfect landing."
Mr Smith said a Cessna is one of the safest planes in the industry, adding he had never seen a crash landing similar to Friday’s in his 40 years’ flying.
“They’re a very popular aircraft,” he said.
“All pilots practise these movements periodically. These things don’t happen very often. It was a good response from all emergency crews.”
The plane sustained only minor damage, with the prop still spinning upon landing and the faulty wheel digging into the ground.